The Bass Tulip
Saul Bass’ 1974 logo for United Airlines
By the early 1970s United Airlines had grown to become the largest domestic airline in the USA. Its success had followed a period of financial hardship, so the general sentiment was one of achievement. To reflect the change and growth of the company, it was proposed that the airline embark on a new visual identity program. However, for many, this came unexpectedly. "The traditionalists may contend that a company which has achieved an outstanding record like United's should not tamper with its symbols and colours," said Richard J. Ferris, group vice-president of marketing services. "We disagree."
They were keen to move away from their ‘conservative and stodgy’ image. Instead, they hoped a new, updated look would communicate that United Airlines as an “innovative, contemporary, warm, people-oriented airline.” As part of this, and in pursuit of simplicity, the airline changed its name from ‘United Air Lines’ to United Airlines, due to the pronunciation of ‘airlines’ as one word.
Scroll down to discover the contexts and considerations behind the United Airlines design policy, and get some key takeaways.